Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Story of a Very Rapscallion Cat

“Slinky Malinki
Was blacker than black,
A stalking and lurking
Adventurous cat.
He had bright yellow eyes,
A warbling wail
And a kink at the end
Of his very long tail.”

This is the first page of one of the most brilliant children’s books written outside of the U.S. The name of this book is Slinky Malinki, written by Lynley Dodd, who resides in New Zealand.

Usually rhyming picturebooks are a huge no no. Why you ask? Because rhyme often gets forced and is too repetitive, which buries the story (if the so-called author was actually able to wedge one in there), creating a very murky text to wade through. However, Dodd is able to engage lively characters through anapestic verse, rhyme, and alliteration, revealing their antics and quirks. Slinky Malinki is a mischievous cat after night falls and he raises quite a ruckus beneath the moon. Now, if you’re not a cat person, then there’s also Hairy Maclary, a cat-chasing but friendly shaggy black dog, from Donaldson’s Dairy.

“He crept along fences, / he leaped over walls, / he poked into corners / and sneaked into halls / What was he up to? […]” Well, are you hooked yet? You want to finish reading this Slinky Malinki book, don’t you?

Literature knows no bounds in this world – and I consider that a good thing! I really wish more international books, such as these, did better over here in the states. There are so many great titles abroad. What if you never read British literature such as Michael Bond's A Bear Called Paddington or A.A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh? Or how about no Book Thief, which originated in Australia? Astrid Lindgren's Pippi Longstocking is a steady seller here at Booksmith. This red-headed heroine originated in Sweden. The troublesome puppet Pinocchio was originally Italian and Heidi is classic Swiss lit. Plus, there's all those old folk and fairy tales (complete rabbit trail: Did you know Mother Goose's -- whose real name was Mary Goose -- grave is in downtown Boston?) My point? Don't limit yourself to new titles. Read classics. Read old favorites. Read books that began in another culture and see how similar we all really are.

Armchair travel to places around the world...there's no passport required.


Kym said...

My boys and I LOVE Slinky Malinky and Hairy Maclary!! So much fun to read aloud.

Emily said...

That's so great to hear! Have you been able to read any of her other books?